Clean Water Rule Decision Delays Enforcement but Reinforces Need for Protections

WASHINGTON (October 9, 2015) – A federal court decision handed down today temporarily delays enforcement of the  Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Clean Water Rule, which guarantees pollution protections for tens of millions of acres of wetlands and thousands of streams all across the United States. The stay issued by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals is a preliminary ruling and will be followed by much more thorough review in later proceedings over the rules.

Though the decision delays enforcement of the Clean Water Rule for now, the court acknowledged the importance of, and basis for, the environmental protections, noting:

  • “we appreciate the need for the new Rule”
  • “In one sense, the clarification that the new Rule strives to achieve is long overdue.”
  • “We also accept that respondent agencies have conscientiously endeavored, within their technical expertise and experience, and based on reliable peer-reviewed science, to promulgate new standards to protect water quality that conform to the Supreme Court’s guidance.”

Following is a statement by Jon Devine, senior attorney in the Water Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council:

“Every major rule delivered by the EPA is guaranteed to face legal challenges. We look forward to making the case in court about the critical public interests at stake.

“The Clean Water Rule is key to ensuring clean drinking water for one-in-three Americans and protecting essential buffers against flooding. We are confident the courts will find that these are needed safeguards and reject claims that the rule protects too many water bodies from pollution.”

More information on the Clean Water Rule at

The decision can be found at

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world’s natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

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